CAMPING under the stars away from family for weeks at a time and building homes in the remote hinterland of Viti Levu may not be everyone's cup of tea. But for Satyendra Narayan, being in the company of his employer Peter Drysdale out in the never-never is an adventure and the fulfilment of a childhood dream.
"Every boy growing up in the country wants to be a cowboy — and I was living like a cowboy," he says.
"It was exciting, challenging and very physical work but I did it for 19 years and I loved every minute of the experience."
Narayan was there when Peter Drysdale drove hundreds of kilometres into the interior of Viti Levu every week from 1985 until 2004 to search for needy families and offer to build them cyclone-proof homes free-of-charge.
The Sabeto resident has personally built 720 homes and is proud of each one until today.
"If you add the houses in Koroipita, then it would be close to 900. We went from Sigatoka to Rakiraki, to places where nobody had gone before. And I got great joy from seeing the families' faces when their new houses were completed - it was like a castle for them," the 53-year-old shared.
Narayan says his association with Drysdale and his current role as the head foreman at Koroipita have been beneficial in many ways.
"I had adventure, I was employed, I was respected and I managed to give my wife a good home and my children something that I never had - a good education," he adds.
Narayan's daughter Sharon is a first year student at the University of the South Pacific studying psychology and sociology while his son Rodney is a maths and physics tutor at Nadi College.